A special train service to visit the Ayodhya Ram Mandir, which started from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, reached Mangaluru junction on Thursday. The train, named Coimbatore-Darshan Nagar-Coimbatore Aastha, carried hundreds of pilgrims who were eager to see the holy site of the Ram temple.
Aastha train: A boon for devotees
The Aastha train is a special service offered by the Indian Railways to facilitate the pilgrimage of devotees to various religious places in the country. The train has 18 coaches, including two AC coaches, and can accommodate up to 1,080 passengers. The train provides amenities such as bedding, food, water, security, and medical facilities to the passengers.
The Aastha train to Ayodhya was inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi on February 6 at Coimbatore. The train departed from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on Thursday morning and travelled to Ayodhya junction via Mangaluru Junction railway station. It arrived at Mangaluru Junction at 5.50 pm on Thursday and departed at 6 pm.
The train is scheduled to arrive at Darshan Nagar railway station in Ayodhya in the early morning of February 11. The return journey will begin from Ayodhya at 8 am on February 12, reaching Mangaluru Junction in the evening of February 14.
Ayodhya Ram Mandir: A symbol of faith and unity
The Ayodhya Ram Mandir is a temple dedicated to Lord Ram, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, and his consort Sita. The temple is being constructed at the site where Hindus believe Ram was born and where a 16th-century mosque, known as Babri Masjid, once stood. The mosque was demolished by Hindu activists in 1992, sparking communal riots across the country.
The Supreme Court of India, in a landmark verdict in 2019, cleared the way for the construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site, while allotting a separate five-acre land for the Muslims to build a mosque. The foundation stone of the Ram temple was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 5, 2020, in a grand ceremony attended by several religious and political leaders.
The Ram temple is expected to be completed by 2024, coinciding with the next general elections in India. The temple is being built by the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, a body set up by the central government to oversee the construction and management of the temple. The trust has received donations from millions of people across the country and abroad for the temple project.
Pilgrims share their joy and excitement
The pilgrims who boarded the Aastha train from Mangaluru expressed their joy and excitement at the opportunity to visit the Ayodhya Ram Mandir. They said they were looking forward to having a darshan of Lord Ram and witnessing the progress of the temple construction.
“I have always wanted to go to Ayodhya and see the birthplace of Lord Ram. I am very happy that the railways have arranged this special train for us. I am sure it will be a memorable and spiritual experience for me and my family,” said Ramesh, a retired teacher from Mangaluru.
“I am a devotee of Lord Ram and I have been following the Ram temple movement since the beginning. I am very glad that the Supreme Court has given justice to the Hindus and allowed the construction of the temple. I am eager to see the temple and offer my prayers to Lord Ram,” said Lakshmi, a homemaker from Udupi.
“I am a student of history and I am interested in the cultural and historical significance of Ayodhya. I think it is a great initiative by the railways to provide this special train service for the pilgrims. I hope to learn more about the ancient city and its heritage during my visit,” said Anjali, a college student from Kasaragod.